City approves controversial annexation

More than 107 acres of formerly private open space land along Cherry Creek in Centennial is now to hikers, runners, cyclists, naturalists and other outdoor enthusiasts with the opening of the Parker Jordan Centennial Open Space on Saturday, Aug 4. Photo by Deborah Grigsby
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Despite pleas from upset homeowners, the City of Centennial picked up a few more acres of real estate surrounding two subdivisions located in unincorporated Arapahoe County.

While the annexation of five parcels of open space does not include the Tuscany and Siena subdivisions, City Planner Andrew Firestine says it does turn them into an enclave by sufficiently surrounding them with land that’s part of Centennial, which would permit the city, in three years, to unilaterally suck up more than 1,400 homes.

The city thinks residents who live in Siena and Tuscany should pay their share for city services they use, and that the move doesn’t mean they’ll be annexed, just that the option is preserved for a future city council.

Siena and Tuscany residents who spoke at the April 15 city council weren’t convinced, some calling it just short of “taxation without representation.”

“By giving this option to a future city council, you essentially take away the option of any Siena or Tuscany resident to have any say whatsoever,” said Jimmy Sengenberger, one of the affected homeowners.

Other residents asked Mayor Cathy Noon and city council to consider only annexing all but one of the parcels, which would not create an enclave.

“If you truly want to annex parks, take them,” said John Gay, “but don’t take The Farm just so you can enclave. You have the law on your side, but it doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.”

Should the subdivisions eventually be annexed, the city says the property tax difference would be negligible, meaning that a $500,000 home in either neighborhood would see an annual increase in such taxes of approximately $5.

“I, personally, would not vote to annex Tuscany or Siena today,” admitted a conflicted Noon. “You’ve heard that financially it doesn’t look like it is to be a benefit to the city, and I would not want to annex folks who do not want to be part of the city. We just want to preserve that option.”

But for Noon, the bottom line is not what the residents of Siena and Tuscany want, but what the citizens of Centennial want.

“I swore an oath to represent the interests of the citizens of Centennial,” Noon explained. “I have listened to everything you’ve said tonight and have written, but it seems that everyone here tonight has come here from outside the city of Centennial — I have not heard from a single resident or business from Centennial that has said I should vote no.”

The annexation of the five parcels, including The Farm, passed with a vote of 6 to 2, with Council Members Rebecca McClellan and Sue Bosier voting no and Council Member Ron Weidmann abstaining.

Noon thanked residents for attending, saying, “I know this didn’t go the way you hoped and I hope you understand the position that some of us are in. This was certainly not an easy decision for any of us to make.”

“Right I want you to think about something,” said Gay, who lives in the Tuscany development. “There are about 1,400 homes out there; each home has about two-three people, and that’s approximately 4,000 to 5,000 people, of which about 3,000 of them are gonna vote, and your tickin’ them off right now as we speak. Do you really want 3,000 unhappy citizens as part of your city someday?”